Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Different intellectual, cultural, visual, social and material strategies and tactics were utilized to create and consolidate the German Empire from its inception in 1871 until it ended in 1918."Mediating the Colonial Other in the German Empire" examines the role of the print media in creating and sustaining nationalistic feelings to uphold the German Empire by disseminating both veiled and not-too-veiled nationalism thorough the publications addressed to the German populace. This dissertation explores how three specific types of media--a family magazine (Die Gartenlaube), novels, and juvenile literature--were used to address different audiences to foster nationalism in the Empire. Using different theories of nationalism, I investigate the treatment, in these media, of the colonial other whose space and identity were the most useful elements for feeding German nationalist feeling, by the way it imagines, stereotypes, fictionalizes and racializes non-Germans for the purpose of either distracting readers from existing cultural differences and issues within the Empire or feeding nationalistic sentiments.

I discuss specific issues of Die Gartenlaube and their coverage of the German colonial other in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world. I begin with the pro-colonialism publications that appeared before Germany became a colonial power considering them as colonial fantasies. I then analyze the depiction of natives in German colonies when these colonial fantasies became realized.

In the second chapter, I continue the discussion of the mediation of the colonial other by examining how nationalism informed fictions addressing the German population in the Empire. The first selected novel, Peter Moors Fahrt nach Südwest from 1906 by Gustav Frenssen, an editor of Die Gartenlaube, fictionalizes the Herero-Nama revolt in the German colonial territories, (re)presenting the events to German audiences to foster nationalism among German adult readers. Frenssen, having never visited any German, created characters resembling the German soldiers he interviewed for the novel, showing the different layers involved in mediating nationalism, especially how second-hand experiences of others were readily manipulated and vividly retold to foster nationalism. I also analyze Ansiedlerschicksale; elf Jahre in Deutsch-Südwestafrika 1893-1904, the autobiography of Helene Nitze von Falkenhausen who settled in the same German colony as Frenssen’s characters right before the natives revolted. Although both selected works speak “about” the colonial other, this autobiography sheds some light on the (perceived) relationship of Africans to their homeland, and most importantly, gives an overview from a female writer that can be juxtaposed to Frenssen for the purpose of comparison.

The third chapter treats reading (as) socialization for German juvenile readers in the Empire. It will review two stories written by authors with the aim of fostering nationalism among the younger generation. Like Frenssen, Falkenhorst in Der Baumtöter fictionalizes the German colony of Cameroun without having ever visited the territory. He situates and fictionalizes the uprising of natives against German settlers, retelling the events from the perspective of a German gardener who relocates to Cameroun. I review its implicit and explicit nationalist references aimed at socializing children into colonialism and nationalism. Similarly, Koch in Die Vollrads in Südwest writes from the perspective of a young girl who settles in German Southwest Africa and experiences the confusion and horrors of the Herero uprising. While Falkenhorst’s novel was published in 1899, in the heyday of German colonial exploits, Koch’s work appeared in 1910 and was written explicitly for girls.

The juxtaposition of different magazine publications and different stories to one another, using the fundamental questions about nationalism, helps trace both colonial fantasies and realities, and most importantly, offers a look at the unforeseen colonial realities of natives’ resistance as they were mediated years after the massacre of the native resisters took place. In the conclusion, I highlight what these primary sources tell us about the discourses of othering, as well as the discourses of nationalism and colonialism, and their creation and dissemination in specific genres for particular audiences.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Lynne Tatlock

Committee Members

Matt Erlin, André Fischer, Peter Höyng, Caroline Kita,

Available for download on Saturday, April 10, 2038